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Old 01-11-2014, 11:46 AM   #1
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Smile Hot Springs, AK

Hi,
I'm planning a spring trip to Hot Springs, Ark. Any advice on where to camp and fun things to do? I know about the thermal baths and the race track, any other "out of the box" ideas? How about good restaurant suggestions. Thanks
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Old 01-11-2014, 12:09 PM   #2
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The television travel series "Motion" featured Hot Springs, AR in a recent episode. Looks like an interesting destination:

Arkansas' Hot Springs National Park | Motion | The Live Well Network
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:12 PM   #3
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Depending on the season, I entertain visiting family and friends at the following:
Garvin Woodland Gardens
Guided stiper fishing on nearby lake ouachita
Magic Springs theme park (for their concert series)
If you're willing to drive an hour to Little Rock: Clinton Presidential Library

Restaurants: (other than ubiquitous chains)
Backporch Grill
Via Roma
McClard's
Belle of Hot Springs riverboat dinner cruise
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:13 PM   #4
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Degray Lake Resort State Park. I stayed there Thanksgiving week, 2012. Plenty to do at the park, and the restaurant in the lodge turns out great meals if you don't want to cook. It's only 24 miles from Hot Springs via Scenic Byway 7.
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Old 01-31-2014, 12:46 AM   #5
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Second the opinion on Degrey lake.
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Old 01-31-2014, 02:45 AM   #6
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lake Ouachita -Lake Ouachita State Park - We have camped there with our Airstream a number of years ago. Very nice campground. Easy access to the city of Hot Springs. Super clear lake. Great for scuba or snorkel diving, but a little chilly this time of year.
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Old 01-31-2014, 05:41 AM   #7
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Those are nice spots but, if one wanted to be nearer town, look at Gulpha Gorge.

It is a very nice National Park Service park just east of town on Highway 7.

And just to round out the selections, the commercial park Catherine's Landing is a very plush and new park with level concrete pads, a swimming pool, and other amenities.

The Porterhouse is a good steak and the Ohio Club is a cool bar/burger joint.


We always have a bath at the Buckstaff.

And, just because I live in Arkansas and feel obligated, AK is Alaska, AR is Arkansas.



Regards,

JD
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Old 01-31-2014, 05:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
Those are nice spots but, if one wanted to be nearer town, look at Gulpha Gorge.

It is a very nice National Park Service park just east of town on Highway 7.

And just to round out the selections, the commercial park Catherine's Landing is a very plush and new park with level concrete pads, a swimming pool, and other amenities.

The Porterhouse is a good steak and the Ohio Club is a cool bar/burger joint.


We always have a bath at the Buckstaff.

And, just because I live in Arkansas and feel obligated, AK is Alaska, AR is Arkansas.



Regards,

JD
Thanks for the information - especially about the steaks. I'm so sorry about messing up on your lovely state's initials - we in Missouri often get MS as our initials Looking forward to spending some time in AR
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Old 01-31-2014, 06:37 AM   #9
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Lake Catherine State Park is our Hot Springs campground of choice.

It's far enough away from Hot Springs, yet close if you want to go.

A downside of the park, is the electric power generation plant nearby (across the lake). I would advise against camping there in the middle of Summer, when the plant is running at capacity. Very noisy. However there are sites at the campground that are away from the noise, but don't have the view of the lake.

Other than that, all sites have concrete pad, table, fire ring, tent pad, and most importantly plenty of space in between.
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Old 01-31-2014, 07:34 AM   #10
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I second JD's recommendations on Gulpha Gorge and Catherine's Landing. Also, Lake Catherine State Park is nearby as well.
My favorite restaurant is Luna Bella which is on 7 after crossing the Lake once.
Nice romantic atmosphere, good bartender, and great food.
The art galleries downtown are also very nice. They are open late on the first Friday of every month and serve wine and snacks.
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Old 01-31-2014, 01:09 PM   #11
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If you choose Lake Ouachita SP I would recommend Area A. The spaces are a bit less crowded than the section closer to the marina and boat ramp.
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Old 01-31-2014, 02:59 PM   #12
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You had me going by the title of the thread.
I was wondering if there was a Hot Springs in Alaska.
AK is the 2 letter abbreviation for Alaska.
The 2 letter abbreviation for Arkansas is AR.
Lake Catherine is awesome.
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Old 02-01-2014, 08:51 AM   #13
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Forgot to mention one more thing to check out on bath house row. There is a new micro brewery in the Superior bath house. Good beer and great food as well as gelato and espresso.

Rick
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:32 AM   #14
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When are you going?

Hot Springs National Park - my home town! My wife and I both finished High School there and our old school is now a historic site. We were the last class that graduated there four years after a famous politician also received his diploma from there.

Lots of great camping all 'round. I really like Lake Quachita but my preference is related to boating, swimming, and fishing as much as camping. Lake Ouachita is spectacular and with an uninhabited shoreline and still fairly pristine. If I were going anytime other than swimming weather in an Airstream (sans boat), I would stay somewhere else a bit closer to town. Options are Brady Mountain and Crystal Springs.

As mentioned Lake DeGray is spectacular as well, much like Ouachita but to the south of Hot Springs. It too has a mostly protected shoreline with very good fishing and much wildlife.

Lakes Ouachita, Hamilton, and Catherine are on the Ouachita River in series and DeGray is on the Caddo River.

If you want to spend more time in town than on the camping site and on the lakes, Catherine may be a better bet since it will be closer to Hot Springs. As mentioned the Gulpha Gorge is also a possibility. The creek that runs through the gorge is worth a visit and they have a very nice picnic area there that you should use one day regardless.

Some things to do not yet mentioned are crystal hunting, diamond hunting, and white water canoeing depending on time of the year. A visit to the tops of West and North Mountains overlooking the town are worth the effort. West Mountain has a great trail for walking the ridge and North Mountain has an observation tower that is fun.

If you are there during the horse racing season, that is big fun. In the old days my high school mates and I used to go to the races and drink beer and bet on the ponies! Yes, those were different days and Hot Springs was a wild town with illegal gambling and all that went with it. If you are there during the season avoid Central Ave (HWY 7) near the track, the traffic is absolutely terrible and it can take up too much of your day to get through there, so use the bypass that goes around the city.

Arkansas is a state that promotes tourism in a very big way and if you contact the tourism department, you will get overwhelmed with info.

Don't miss McClard's BBQ in Hot Springs. When I was in the sixth grade I was a school crossing guard on the corner by McClards and was tormented daily with the wonderful smell of BBQ. Everything on their menu is good but be sure and get an order of tamalies. Don't go spot on noon or you will have to fight for a table and that is always a scramble. They wait on you but they do not seat you. The restaurant is absolutely a step back in time with the same layout for the last 60 years. They still use the same hickory pit out back and the McClard clan still owns and runs the place. If I am not mistaken, I believe the 4th generation is now engaged. It is the same as it was in the fifties and the family has wisely chosen not to modify their business approach and it is always busy. The locals all go there to eat. Search the web and you find a bunch of info.

When you leave Hot Springs, go to Northwest Arkansas near Fayetteville in the Boston Mountains and go to Devils Den. I haven't been there since I was in school in Fayetteville but it is spectacular and I have spoken to many Airstreamers who have told me it is absolutely wonderful. It is also easier to get to these days. In former times, there was a pig trail that would have tested your tow vehicle to the limits. There is a gorge there with a small steam that has deep swimming holes and is unbelievably beautiful. (I am told it has been preserved and still there)

Keep us posted
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